Orally Administered Chemotherapy

Your doctor may prescribe an anti-cancer treatment for you in the form of pills or capsules to be taken by mouth (orally). Such treatments are classic chemotherapies or targeted therapies. They have the same side effects as those administered intravenously. This medication must be handled carefully.

Some advice

  • Determine when to take the medication in accordance with the instructions given. Taking it when fasting or during a meal may make a difference to the actual dose absorbed.
  • Take your treatment with water at room temperature.
  • It is recommended that you not cut, crush or chew your pills. That changes how they are absorbed and may damage the mucous membrane of the mouth or digestive tract.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water if you have touched the pills with your bare hands. Your caregivers may wear rubber gloves to handle them.
  • Tell your oncologist if you have forgotten one or more doses or if you have vomited after taking them. Do not take a replacement dose on your own initiative.
  • Drink more than usual. It is recommended that you increase your usual intake of liquids (herb teas, water etc.) by at least half a litre.
  • Keep your pills in a container everyone can identify. Do not leave them within reach of children.
  • Prevent nausea due to treatment by taking prescribed anti-nausea medication.

There are some simple ways to help you not to forget when to take your pills: setting the alarm on your clock, telephone or watch, keeping your pills near your toothbrush, putting a glass of water on the bathroom shelf, using a pill dispenser, keeping spare pills in your handbag (useful on a journey).

In the public’s eyes oral treatment seems rather banal and harmless. That is not the case. This new form of medication for the treatment of cancer is still little understood, but is quickly catching on.

+ N.B.
Ligue Suisse contre le cancer brochure 
Medicinal treatments for cancer [Medical treatments in cancer cases].

Download the sheet Orally administered chemotherapy


Last update : 08/02/2019